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Can You Run A Generator In A Shed? A Big No-No!

can you run a generator in a shed
Written by Jamie Masterson

Can you run a generator in a shed?

No, you shouldn’t do that. You can surely expect the unexpected (I mean a disaster) in case you don’t follow the safety regulations. 

Instead, there are purpose-built generator housing options that you can install to ensure your generator runs safely and smoothly. 

can you run a generator in a shed

However, you can use a shed to accommodate and operate a generator once you ensure all the safety requirements are met and you are keeping an eye open for any potential hazards. 

Why It Isn’t Safe to Run a Generator in a Shed

Poor airflow

can you run a generator in a shed

Most of the sheds don’t have proper channels to let the air flow freely. As a result, the air quality can’t be improved, which is crucial to run a generator inside a shed. 

This also creates an uncomfortable work environment that is filled with dust and smoke. 

Even if you keep the doors and windows open all the time, which isn’t a viable option, the dust and toxic gas particles can still stay airborne and cause hazards if you inhale them. 

We don’t recommend using a shed unless you attach a proper ventilation system. 

Toxic fumes

can you run a generator in a shed

The generator produces toxic fumes of carbon monoxide which is very dangerous to anyone that inhales it. 

Carbon monoxide (CO) is known as a “silent killer” since the gas can cause headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, and death without even announcing its presence. 

Combining the fatality of the carbon monoxide with the poor airflow can make you pass out while working in the shed, and if not treated in time, kill you silently. 

That’s why all of us emphasize not to run a generator in closed spaces. If you have to do it anyway, use gas masks.

Fire hazards

can you run a generator in a shed

There is also a high risk of fire hazards since both the fuel and the electricity are really dangerous. Fire needs 3 things to ignite – a spark (starting point), fuel, and oxygen. All of them are present near a generator. 

The generator, if not maintained and run correctly, is just a fire hazard waiting to happen. That’s why manufacturers strongly recommend that you place your generator at least 15-20 feet away from your home or any other structure that can catch fire. 

Noisy environments

can you run a generator in a shed

The generator, no matter how big/small it is, makes a loud noise which can create a nuisance for the people nearby. Loud noise not only affects your mood, but it also can harm your body if you are exposed for too long. 

Most sheds don’t have the necessary system to minimize the noise and installing a noise-canceling system can cost you heavily. 

Even the quieter generators can produce noise measuring around 40 dB, which in a tight space, is enough to damage your auditory sense. 

Insurance problems

Almost all the generators are instructed to use outside your home. If you use them inside a shed and something bad happens, your shed won’t be covered in the insurance and you won’t get any compensation for that. 

Not only you’ll lose some valuable assets in case of an accident, but the company may also declare your insurance void and that’ll increase your suffering even more. 

What Can Be Done

The best way to run your generator safely is to place it outside, but that can’t be done all the time, especially during rough weather. A  generator in an open place can be stolen as well. 

The best way around this problem is to build a dedicated space for your generator that will provide the necessary airflow, trap the sound inside, reduce the risk of catching fire, and protect your generator from harsh weather, vandalism, or being stolen. 

The Difference Between a Shed and a Dedicated Housing?

can you run a generator in a shed

Sheds are multipurpose. Almost anything you have in your garden can be used as a shed. They come in various shapes and sizes. 

Usually, sheds are made of wood and can be large enough to accommodate you and your workstation, or barely large enough to store some of your tools.

On the flip side, dedicated housings are purpose-built and can accommodate the machine properly, maintaining all the safety regulations. 

They will require little or no modification to secure and protect your generators whereas sheds will require heavy modifications. 

How to Convert a Shed Into a Dedicated Generator Housing?

Select a shed

If you don’t already have a shed, you can choose dedicated housing from third parties that provide generator enclosures. Choose the one that has around half a foot of additional space around it. 

That way, the generator sides won’t come directly in contact with the walls and reduce the possibility of burning the walls. 

The housing should be made from plastic since plastic will melt long before it spontaneously combusts. This will prevent the fire from spreading in case there is one.  

Build the base

can you run a generator in a shed

There is a regulation in most countries that demands you have a solid concrete base in case you are permanently installing a generator. 

This is where your default garden sheds fail as they require heavy modification to be eligible to hold a generator safely. 

Not only will the concrete base protect your generator from rough weather but it will also help to discharge the buildup charges your machine will create. 

That will reduce the chance of uncontrolled sparks and thus protect your machine and house. 

Remove everything else

If you decide to modify your garden sheds, you need to uninstall all the inner components before you install the machine. 

There is a great chance that the previous ventilation system won’t be able to provide adequate ventilation for your generator. 

Most garden sheds will have shelving, internal wiring, or vents that can potentially harm the generator. We strongly recommend that you remove all the prior installments before your place your generator. 

Keep everything up to regulation

There are differences in regulations in different states and insurance provider companies. Talk with your local municipality and your insurance provider to find out what you can do and what not. 

In some states, the sheds have to be fully collapsible around the generator, some states require extensive vents if you enclose the machine, and some states will require a dedicated generator cover instead of a shed. 

Install locks on the doors

can you run a generator in a shed

Fire isn’t the only misfortune that may come unannounced. There may be curious children who want to get closer to your machine, people may try to steal your machine, its parts, or even fuel if you don’t keep an eye out.  

It would be wise to install locks to control the accessibility to the housing. That way, the probability of something bad happening will reduce greatly. 

Install a proper ventilation system

The most important aspect of getting a dedicated house for your generator is to provide enough ventilation. 

Usually, a generator requires 65 CFM of fresh air per kW just to ventilate. It also needs some air to properly burn the fuel. 

That’s why proper ventilation is crucial. Try to build a push and pull fan system to maximize the airflow. 

Put a warning sticker outside

can you run a generator in a shed

You also want to keep people away from the generator to avoid any misfortune accidents. That is why it is recommended to provide a clear warning that everybody can see. 

We suggest you put a high voltage sticker or a warning sign that says generator over the door of the house. This will keep most people out and you’ll be doing your part to keep people around you safe.

FAQs

1. Where is the safest place to put a generator? 

Ans: The safest place to put your generator is 20 feet away from any building, on a flat, level surface that won’t get flooded. The machine also needs to be put at 5 five feet away from any windows, doorways, or soffit vents.

2. Why are generators so loud?

Ans: The sound you hear from the generator is the sound of the exhaust gasses leaving the machine. The more power a generator produces, the louder its noise will be. A generator that produces 50 kilowatts will have noise levels of around 85 decibels.

3. What kind of sheds can be used for running a generator?

Ans: The best option for generator sheds is made from plastic or thoroughly treated wood. It should also have collapsible walls on at least two sides, enough space for ventilation, and easy accessibility to every part.

About the author

Jamie Masterson

With decade-long experience as a generator technician, Jamie has worked with USA’s top generator manufacturers and suppliers as an independent contractor.

The long years of service to the industry has taught Jamie the ins and outs of troubleshooting, repairing, and maintaining all kinds of generators in home, industrial and outdoor settings.

Jamie thinks this platform is a great opportunity to share his tips and tricks with you so you can make the most of such power equipment for better living.

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